"Recognising their benefits for better use of land, increased "
Ref: TCC100 GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR GREATER DOMESTIC BASEMENT PROVISION Recognising their benefits for better use of land, increased energy efficiency and the provision of flexible living space that meets the lifestyle demands of today, the Government has called upon the UK house building industry to increase the provision of domestic basements. Speaking at a major construction industry conference held by the Basement Information Centre, in partnership with The Concrete Centre and BRE, the Rt Hon Keith Hill MP, Minister of Planning and Housing said: “The Government is supportive of the greater use of high quality basements. Bright, modern, energy efficient basements are the future as more living accommodation for the same footprint has to be the right way forward”. The Minister pointed out how, in mainland Europe and throughout America, basements are seen as a way to maximise land-use for small cost increase. Typically, in Germany the provision of a basement costs only 2 – 12% of the construction costs for up to 50% more living space. Describing himself as a ‘basement buff’, the Minister expressed his wish “to see ever greater use of basements in new housing developments in the UK”. “It seems to me that what The Basements Information Centre is trying to achieve is very much in line with the Government's commitment to delivering sustainable communities and economic land use”. The Minister’s support for more domestic basement construction was welcomed by Alan Tovey, Director of the Basement Information Centre, who said: “Basements offer better use of land, better use of energy and better living space. We are pleased that, recognising how basements meet their requirements for increased housing density, energy efficiency and use of brownfield sites, the Government fully supports their increased construction.” Until the First World War, basements were commonplace in the UK. However, after the war many houses were built at low cost and basements were omitted because land was comparatively cheap and in plentiful supply. That is not the case today and basements can provide considerably more living space without the use of any more land. They are also well suited for construction on sloping or brownfield sites. The Government wishes to see some 60% of new homes built on brownfield sites. The poor ground conditions on these sites often require deep excavations and foundations, and to the provision of basements in the excavated space. On sloping sites, semi-basements with one side below ground and the other at ground level, are ideally suited for the inclusion of a basement. To some extent the resurgence in interest in basements has been fuelled by the self-build market. Self-builders have been quick to realise the extra flexible living and storage space that basements provide and have built home offices, guest bedroom suites, utility rooms, gymnasiums and even swimming pools below ground. Basements can provide 50% more living space for a two- storey house and up to 100% for a bungalow without increasing either the amount of land use or the height of the home. In addition, basements improve the energy of homes. Heat losses through basement floors and walls are less than those at ground and upper floor levels. Research carried out by BRE found that given two houses of the same above-ground size and construction, the one with a basement would be 10% more energy efficient. “This was an important conference”, said Ian Cox, Chief Executive of The Concrete Centre. “It has demonstrated that basements are the way forward for UK homes. It has also set the challenge to the construction industry to provide the necessary technology and to the speculative housebuilder to provide the type of flexible living space that today’s lifestyle demands”. ENDS